Feb 14

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Life lessons from a photographer

I have a very special Valentine for you, Miracle Watchers.  In fact, I’ve been chomping at the bit ever since I got home from last weekend’s conference to share this one with you, but I wanted to make sure that I got it just right…and today is the just right day!  🙂

A newspaper conference is about what you’d expect – two days of people talking about circulation statistics, public information rules, and cranking out quick stories.

Peter Pereira

Mr. Phenomenal himself, Peter Pereira

The workshop I was most excited to attend had the rather un-catchy title  “One of New England’s most accomplished photographers shares the secrets to his success.”

I went to the presentation hoping to pick up some easy tips about framing and composing compelling photos. What I got was a master class in what it looks like to commit 100% to your passion and how that creates its own kind of success.

Meet Peter Pereira, photojournalist extraordinaire and secret spiritual teacher.  It is his job to look at the same things everyone else looks at in a different way.

Here are just a few of the lessons that caught my attention while he was talking (some of them I got down verbatim, but most of them are paraphrased because I didn’t have my voice recorder with me):

“I don’t look for the perfect photo, I look for the perfect moment” – Peter was talking about not trying to force a perfect picture, but instead to be so in touch with the entire surrounding that you feel the perfect moment when it arrives. It’s a great lesson for life – instead of trying to control and manipulate our experiences, we do best when we immerse ourselves in the experiences that are already happening around us.

The only way to tell a story compelling enough for other people to care about is to feel it; if you’re going to photograph people garbage picking effectively, you need to walk around in the garbage yourself to see it, smell it, feel it because it will all show up in your photo – I think this is why the people who have been through the depths of despair and found their way out the other side are the best teachers.  We’re not just talking about theories; we’ve lived through it and there’s no substitute for experience.

pereira-schoolboyPeter talked about the “media scrum” that happens around big events like a presidential visit, saying that the mob mentality sets in because everyone is afraid that he won’t get what the other guys get. The result is that everyone has the same photo on their front page the next day. Peter’s message – go where nowhere else is, because it doesn’t matter what the other guy has!!!!  Get your best photo (or business, or relationship, or meal, or any other place in your life where you might be following the crowd rather than going for what YOU really want.)

If you show people something they’re familiar with in a way they’ve never seen it before, that’s what special.”  I’d like to think that’s why this Miracle Journal is successful.  🙂

Peter said that he makes a practice of looking at the same things over and over again and seeing it differently each time. What a great practice, both for itself and as a metaphor for life.  Too often we spin in the same vortex of thoughts and don’t even realize there might be another way to see the situations of our life.

pereira-soldierIf you have a goal, you’re going to get somewhere. If you don’t have goals, you’re going to be in the same place tomorrow that you are today.”  ‘Nuff said.

Of the many amazing stories that Peter told, here’s my favorite – when a new wind tower was constructed in his area, he didn’t take the standard wind tower picture. Instead  he climbed the tower and took a picture from the top. The kicker of the story was, “I’m terrified of heights, but when you’re totally focused and committed, the fear disappears. Even when you’re climbing a wind turbine.”  (click to tweet)

Thank you, Peter for an incredible set of life lessons… masquerading as lessons about photography.  🙂

Today’s miracle: Once again receiving reminders about life’s greatest lessons from the most unlikely places.

Peter has given me permission to share some of his photos here on the Journal, but it’s only the tiniest tip of a huge iceberg. You can find so much more at Peter’s website, which features both a daily shot that he’s proud of and photo collections from his travels, at www.PeterPereira.com.

Click any photo to see a larger version







About the author

Leah Carey

Leah Carey is the Chief Miracle Officer of The Miracle Journal, where she writes about the large and small miracles that happen in her life every day. She is a life coach, speaker, journalist, freelance writer, and lover of life. In all of those pursuits, she works with people to identify what’s already right in your life so you can build an even more joyful and fulfilling daily experience from that foundation. You can find her on Facebook, , Twitter, and YouTube.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.leahcarey.com/themiraclejournal/2013/02/14/life-lessons-from-a-photographer/


  1. Lisa LaPlante

    This is FABULOUS Leah! I feel like I need to read it over and over and over again to continue to get all the gifts and lessons from what you’ve written. Ironically – it’s not unlike what Peter was saying about taking his photographs and seeing things over and over again to see it differently each time. I think you have been infused with this gift yourself! Thank you SO much for sharing this beautiful miracle! Perfectly Poignant!!!!

  2. Leah

    Thank you so much Lisa! I’m glad that you found Peter’s lessons as profound as I did. 🙂

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